Tool for tree planting potential on Taranaki farms
The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will provide $250,000 for the development of a digital tool for farmers to assess the viability of planting trees on Taranaki hill country farms, Regional Economic Development and Forestry Minister Shane Jones has announced.
“Landowners will be able to use the simple digital tool to identify the return on investment and benefits of planting trees on their hill country farms,” Shane Jones said.
“It could help accelerate tree planting in the hill country from current rates leading to jobs, and environmental and social benefits. The tool could include decision-making help on the Emissions Trading Scheme and utilising tools such as SEDNET, which is used to predict land management effects on erosion and sediment yield.
“It also supports the One Billion Trees programme and has positive benefits through an increased contribution to climate change mitigation, enhanced water quality, soil protection and biodiversity.
“Taranaki has about 80,000 hectares of hill country in low-producing pastoral grassland that would be better suited, in terms of sustainable land use, to some form of forestry or vegetative cover. Yet there has been a gap of practical information to help farmers with their decision making.
“For more marginal farm land, there’s clear evidence that supports higher returns for forestry per hectare compared to drystock over the rotation of a forest,” Shane Jones said.
The Taranaki Regional Council will lead the work as it has well-established relationships with hill country farmers to help diversify their land use where needed.
The development of the tool will take about 12 months and will serve as a pilot project which could be replicated in other regions. The $440,000 initiative is being co-funded by the Taranaki Regional Council, which will play a major role promoting the tool.